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Cold weather can affect your health but there are some things you can do to help stay well.

Boost your immunity

Winter flu vaccine

If you’re 50 or over, pregnant, a carer or a close contacts of anyone who has weakened immunity  or if you have a long-term health condition, you’re entitled to a flu vaccination. You get this for free as you’re at greater risk of being seriously affected by the flu.

The flu vaccine reduces the likelihood of you getting flu, the severity of flu symptoms if you do catch it, and could help prevent your relatives or carers from catching flu from you.

This winter, if you are in one of the groups below, and haven’t yet had your free flu vaccine, book yours today.

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • frontline health or social care workers

You can get your NHS flu vaccine from

  • Your GP surgery
  • A pharmacy offering the service
  • Your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
  • A hospital appointment
  • Via schools for school aged children
  • The Flu vaccine is also free, usually through your employer, if you’re a frontline health or social care worker.

Find out more online on the NHS website.

Anyone not eligible for a free flu vaccine but who would like one, can arrange this through many local pharmacies for a charge of around £15. Find your local pharmacy or GP.

Covid-19 winter booster vaccine

This year many people are eligible for a Covid-19 booster vaccination. Eligible groups and information on when and how to book can be found online.

Heat your home well this winter

  • a temperature of 180C is fine for most people. But older people may need the temperature indoors to be slightly higher.
  • if you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the room you spend most time in during the day and your bedroom just before bedtime. Close curtains before sunset and shut doors and windows to keep heat in the room you use the most.

When to let fresh air in

When you have visitors in your home, you should regularly ventilate the areas you use during the visit to protect against the spread of coronavirus. Wearing layered clothing or thermal underwear will help to keep you warm when you have your windows open. If you are concerned about the costs of heating, opening windows for shorter periods of time can still help to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

For full information about winter warmth, particularly for those with health conditions that may be affected by cold weather, such as respiratory or circulatory conditions, see the NHS Choices Keep Warm, Keep Well pages.

Information about local services that can help this winter are available on the Health and Social Care service directory and the Hive directory.

Top tips for staying warm this winter

Stay active

Moving around at home will warm you up but heading out to a club or group at a warm and cosy community centre is even better. Search for groups on the health & social care service directory and Hive directory

Eat and drink well

Hot meals and hot drinks will help you stay warm. Drink plenty of water – keeping hydrated is just as important in winter as it is in summer. If you’re not able to cook, consider Meals on Wheels services (for more information telephone  023 9268 8390) or local lunch and dinner clubs that offer affordable hot meals, with good company too! Search for meals on the health & social care service directory and the Hive directory

Dress up warm

Wearing layered clothing or thermal underwear will help to keep you warm at home. Put on more layers rather than wrapping up in a blanket, so that you’re not tempted to stay still for too long – getting up and about will keep you warm too. Remember, slippers or thermal socks will keep your feet toasty, but make sure they fit well and have non-slip soles to avoid injuries caused by slips and trips in the home.

Have a cold weather plan

Make sure you’re prepared in case the bad weather keeps you from going out for a few days. See our ‘plan ahead’ section for details – and remember to check in on neighbours. If you need a good neighbour to check in on you, there are local community groups that can do this, search for good neighbours on the health & social care service directory and the Hive directory.

Plan ahead

Get prepared:

  • make sure you have some extra essentials in case bad weather prevents you from going out. Look for items that will last the whole winter, such as long-life milk, porridge, tinned fruit and veg, dry pasta and rice.
  • replenish your first aid kit and medicine cabinet if necessary. Consider getting in your usual cough, cold and sore throat remedies.
  • replace worn slippers. Non-slip soles can lose their grip over time and sturdy slippers can become loose. Well-fitting, warm slippers will keep you cosy and steadier on your feet.
  • think about cosy nightwear. If you need to get up in the night, you’ll stay warmer in bed socks, thermal underwear, and a hat.

If you’re not able to get out and about, consider a local ‘good neighbours’ service. There are several locally, with services ranging from company, collecting prescriptions or essential food items, and pet care. Search for good neighbours on the health & social care service directory and the Hive directory

Safety checks:

  • if you use an electric blanket, consider this safety advice from Hampshire County Council.
  • before using a hot water bottle, check it for damage or wear such as cracks, fading or a loose stopper, as leaks can cause serious burns. When you replace your hot water bottle, look for the BS1970 mark for quality.
  • if you’re over 60, have a child under five or have a disability, Homecheck can carry out basic safety checks and carry out small repairs, as well as draught-proofing free of charge.

Heating costs

Apply for a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born before 26 September 1955 and you don’t receive it automatically with your State Pension or benefits.

Check if you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount. If you receive Pension Credit, are on a low income or have a disability visit gov.uk to find out whether you could receive a £140 discount on your electricity bill.

Visit Switched On Portsmouth for access to free energy saving services and measures, such as insulation, heating systems and solar PV.

Call the Switched On Portsmouth freephone advice line for all heating and energy queries – 0800 260 5907 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).

Apply to be on the Priority Services Register with your energy supplier. This will ensure you will receive extra support in the event of a power shortage and offers regular meter reading services to make sure you’re not being charged for more than you’re using.

Stay warm and well this winter:

If you’re struggling with high energy bills, reach out for help either through Switched On Portsmouth or your energy supplier. There are multiple schemes and services in place to make sure you can afford heat your home to healthy and comfortable levels. Don’t suffer in silence, give us a call on 0800 260 5907.

Tips for a cosy home

  • Contact Switched On Portsmouth to receive a free home energy visit. A friendly and impartial energy advisor will fit small energy saving measures such as draught proofing and LED lightbulbs for free.
  • If you’re over 60, have a child under five or have a physical disability, the council’s Homecheck service can draught-proof your home free of charge. The service is available regardless of income, or whether you own or rent your home, and there are no obligations or hidden charges.
  • Consider fitting thermal linings to your curtains, particularly in the living room and bedroom. They will keep the heat in during winter and can keep you cool in summer. If you aren’t able to do this yourself, a local handyperson service may be able to help. Search for handyperson on the health & social care service directory
  • Check your letterbox and keyhole for draughts. You can purchase covers for a few pounds if they’re letting the cold in. Remember if you’re over 60, have a child under five, or have a physical disability, Homecheck can do this for you for free.
  • Keep your doors closed, especially in the room you’re in. This will help your heating to be more efficient. Consider fitted draught excluders that attach to the door. They will keep the warmth in without being a trip hazard.
  • Keep in mind that several thin layers will be warmer than one thick layer. This is true for your day clothing, nightwear, and your bed linen. Natural fibres such as cotton, wool, or fleece will also be warmer than synthetic fabrics such as polyester.
  • If you dry your clothes on radiators or clothes horse, try to restrict this to one room, such as the kitchen or bathroom. While your clothes are drying keep the window open, and the door closed. This way the damp air can escape outside, rather than clinging to your walls which can make your home harder to heat.
  • if you already have a problem with damp in your home, tackling this will make your home easier to heat. Which? have a free guide to identifying what kind of damp is causing your problem, and the best ways to treat it.